Whenever you need them, St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth have got you covered. And not just you but the loved ones around you, too.
For Fran Usher, the multicoloured blanket crocheted especially for her beautiful wife Lisa Usher by St Luke’s Specialist Nurse Alison Griffiths is so much more than just an attractive throw. It perfectly symbolises the warmth and compassion with which Ali and her colleagues looked after Lisa at home in Plymouth, Devon before sadly, she died. It is also encapsulates the loving kindness the St Luke’s hospice at home team has been wrapping around Fran and the couple’s wider family, too.
When, last July, Lisa received the devastating news that her cancer had returned and the diagnosis was terminal, it was crushing for her, Fran and everyone who loved this brave, caring and spirited lady, including sons Lee and Tony and Lisa’s sister Kerry.
Fran said. “It felt like a scary time, full of uncertainty about how and where Lisa would get the care she so desperately needed, but then St Luke’s got involved. From day one, the team was so friendly and reassuring. They became just like family to us, visiting every day and at the end of the phone whenever they were needed. Ali always answered our questions honestly – just as we wanted – but always with such kindness.
“I knew from its reputation that St Luke’s care would be really good, but their attention to detail is simply phenomenal. They put in a hospital bed so Lisa could be looked after at home, which is what she wanted, and even gave her a pamper day. It meant the absolute world to her to get glammed up with hair, nails and make-up done, feeling more like herself again.
“You only have to see the blanket Ali made for Lisa to know the level of kindness we’re talking about, not only for Lisa but for me, too. I can’t say enough good things about St Luke’s – I just don’t know what we would have done without them.”
When a much-loved person dies, they leave a huge gap in the lives of everyone to whom they meant so much. In the midst of the heartbreak of losing Lisa, Fran is finding comfort in treasured memories of the wife she adored and all the wonderful times they shared over 18 years together.
Fran said: “Lisa and I worked together at Plymouth Community Homes, and we did everything else together, too – gardening, walking, meals out and holidays. Lisa brought me such happiness. I called her my Mary Poppins because she was practically perfect in every way.”
In the week before Lisa died, she and Fran took the courageous step of telling their story, which Lisa’s family has kindly given us permission to share. In doing this it is hoped to shine a light on hospice care and the vital difference it makes to families going through the toughest of times.
Lisa passed away on 6 July knowing Fran and family would be stepping out at St Luke’s Midnight Walk on 22 July, raising funds to help the hospice be there for other families at their time of greatest need.
The final word goes to this special lady, whose memory will live on in the hearts of everyone who was privileged to call her family or friend. Before she died, Lisa said: “I couldn’t have got through this without Fran – she is my everything. From my sons to my sister Kerry, my family has been amazing, too.
“I can never say enough thank-yous to St Luke’s for everything they’ve done for us. They showed me it isn’t about dying but about living til the end.”